Can you please briefly summarize Chapter 22 of Contagion by Robin Cook?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter 22 develops Jacks internal conflict about the solitude and social ostracism he has inflicted on himself in a sort of self-penance for, as we learn in this chapter, an event he feels is his fault. jack realizes he is being confused because suddenly, after five years of insular privacy, he is surprisingly receiving attention from and attracted to Laurie and Terese, women very different from each other.

Laurie calls to tell him there are no new deaths from Manhattan General and to say that her parents were impressed with him from the previous night's dinner party and that she had enjoyed her time with him. Jack muses about his suddenly awakening feelings, an awakening inspired by the kindnesses of the two women. He then responds to Terese's previous request and calls her for a coffee date. They meet at a coffee shop near Willow and Heath ad agency.

Responding to the uncomfortable feeling of having told his secret for the first time in five years--his secret sorrow at his wife's death--he feels the drive or compulsion (perhaps guilty compulsion disguised as relief at speaking up) to tell Terese that there was more. He says that it was in a commuter crash that his wife died along with their two daughters and that he has always felt responsible because they were in the commuter because of him.

    "My wife wasn't the only person who died," Jack siad haltingly. "I lost my two daughters as well. It was a commuter plane crash. ... The problem is, I've always felt so responsible," he continued. "If it hadn't been for me they wouldn't have been on that plane."

Terese responds by saying the whole story for her, which she told part of the night he was attacked, is that not only did she lose her only child but she also lost the ability to have other children and she lost her husband.

Trying to make light of their mutual discomfort at their confessions and at having confided closely guarded personal information, they laugh off their feeling with jokes about therapists and promises of seeing New York's Cloisters in the heart of the upcoming spring.

    "You'll love [the Cloisters in spring]," [Terese] promised.
    "I'll look forward to it," Jack said.